Purim and Passover (or Esther and Easter)

Yesterday was the Jewish celebration of Purim. I love this celebration even though I’m not Jewish.

A brief background: Four generations after the Jews were taken into exile by the Babylonians, we come to the story of Esther. Some Jews remained in Persia, and Esther was a Jewish orphan who grew up there. Esther is chosen as queen by the Persian king which is a story in and of itself. But while she is queen, the Jewish people are in grave danger of being killed. Up to this point she has hidden her ethnicity, but she, at great risk, reveals her heritage and tells the king he is about to destroy her people. As a result, the people are saved. And, as a result of that, Purim becomes a time of celebration for God’s deliverance.

In the Jewish faith, this story if often shared as a juxtaposition to the story of Moses and the deliverance of the Jewish nation from slavery in Egypt. Why the juxtaposition? Because in the story of Moses, God is active in every step intervening both visibly, audibly, and actively. Moses just simply goes to Pharaoh each time he’s told and says, “Let my people go.”

However, in Esther God works through His people to save the Jewish people. We do not see any of what we could call miracles except that it is obvious that God has placed Esther where she is in order to do what needs to be done. Several “coincidences” happen to move the situation along until deliverance takes place.

Now, we celebrate two festivals as a result of these two stories: Passover and Purim. For me, as a Christian, these both have such significance. Of course, Purim encourages us in each season and age that we are all created “for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). We are called by our Heavenly Father to be bold, brave, and loving in this generation just as He has called every generation of believers to be His hands and feet in their generation. Additionally, we stand when God seems to be silent; we trust when times seem frightening and discouraging. Like Esther, we may be called upon to step into danger knowing that whether we live or die, we must obey, we must try to share the truth and make a difference because, like Esther, we are living for a purpose so much bigger than ourselves—for the Gospel and God’s kingdom.

Passover, to my Jewish friends, is often a time of remembrance for what God did in Egypt so long ago. He heard His people’s cries, and He delivered them miraculously and took them to the Promised Land. For Messianic Jews and Christians, Passover is so much more. It is a time of remembrance of the miraculous intervention of God in the world through the cross and the Resurrection. It is the remembrance of the Passover Lamb who fulfilled the Gospel by offering Himself as our sacrifice and who arose victorious over sin and death giving us full access to a relationship with God. Passover is a glorious reminder of our deliverance from sin.

This season of the year is the most joyful time of the year. It is the true time of thanksgiving as we praise and thank our God for His provision for reconciliation with Him. We are so completely undeserving of His grace and mercy. We are so completely blessed by His sacrifice and salvation. We are so completely grateful to be called his children and chosen generation.

Today, as we celebrate Purim, remember that we each have been created “for such a time as this” and that God is always at work in and around us even when we cannot see it.

And as we look forward to Passover and Easter, remember that the whole story that began at creation is completed in the “It is finished” and the “He is not here; He is risen just as He said” of this season.  

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